1950 - 2003
"The dream, better late than never"
Pancratz was a big man from small beginnings. He was born in Chicago
and grew up in Arlington Heights, Illinois with his six brothers
and sisters. He attended St. Viator High School and was involved
in a wide variety of activities there, including the school's
theatre productions. He’d often tell the stories of the
parts he played, like the Mayor in “The Music Man”
when, despite the fact that it was a big part, he was told not
After high school he attended Harper College for two years where
he met his wife, Christine. Chris went on to work for the family
business, Chicago Hospital Supply. He married Christine when she
completed her schooling, and in 1976 the couple welcomed their
first child, Phillip, into the world. In 1980 their second child
Katherine was born.
Over this time Christopher was involved with the Jaycees, holding
offices on local, regional and national levels. He continued working
throughout his life with the Jaycee Foundation and Junior Chamber
of Commerce. He also held a trustee position in the local government.
In 1989 he left Chicago Hospital Supply and became part of the
Health Industry Distributors Association. He served there as an
executive director through most of the 1990s. During this time
his love of space returned to him again, and he became active
in the National Space Society’s DC-L5 chapter. From there
he continued to become more involved in the national, and even
international, level. He was on the National Space Society’s
Board of Directors for six years, served as Vice President of
Public Affairs, Director of Strategic Planning, and as Acting
During his years of involvement the Society honored him several
times. The first occasion was in 2000, when he was named Space
Activist of the Year. The second came shortly after his death
with the naming of an asteroid after him and NSS' arrangement
with Space Services to fulfill his lifetime dream of going to
space. And the last occasion occurred just a few months later
with the first presentation of the Chris Pancratz Activist of
the Year award.
He leaves behind his wife of 30 years, his two children, and
his three grandchildren.
As we say better late than never, his dream will be fulfilled.
And we, his family, would like to thank the National Space Society
and Space Services for this final gift to Chris.
Christine, Kate, Phil, Kimberly,
Jillian, Alina, and Joey
"It has always been my dream to travel into space. Some
years ago, I decided I could not just sit and hope. If I were
to have my chance I needed to do whatever I could to help make
my dream happen."
"As a human being, he loomed even larger than his size 15
shoes. He will be sorely missed."
“The loss of Chris Pancratz robs the NSS of a valuable
resource — an individual who combined the qualities of understanding
and enthusiastically supporting the exploration of space, plus
personal energy and organizational drive.”
Hugh Downs, Chairman of the
NSS Board of Governors